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Why Unpaid Leave Means ‘No Leave’ For Many New Parents In Colorado

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The last weeks of Jenna Riley’s pregnancy were painful — extremely painful. 

She felt it every time she struggled up the stairs of her second-floor condo in Aurora and all through the hours she worked on her feet each day. She was carrying twins and suffering from preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous pregnancy condition.

But she didn’t want to give birth a day before it was necessary.

“As physically exhausted and miserable as I was, I needed the pregnancy to last longer,” explained Riley, a 38-year-old who manages programs for adults with disabilities.

She wasn’t just worried about complications from a preterm delivery, which is common for twins. She simply couldn’t afford it. Her job didn’t offer paid maternity leave and she needed to work as long as possible to build up a cushion for a few weeks off.

“I worked really hard to save money while I was pregnant, and I worked two jobs all through my pregnancy as well,” said Riley, who makes just less than $50,000 a year. Her boyfriend is a therapist for Medicaid clients. Together, they hoped to cover her missed paychecks for a month, giving her time to bond with the twins.

But things didn’t work out as the couple planned.

 

 

 

-CPR, Andrew Kenney

 

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